Where is Raúl Esparza in 2019? Is he returning to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 20?

Caption : Raúl Eduardo Esparza

Raúl Esparza was one of the major cast members of Law & Order: SVU for more than five years. He left the show in February 2018, after doing six seasons. He later opened up about the reason behind leaving the show in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Read on to find out what led Raúl to say goodbye to his famous TV role.

Raúl Esparza says it was time to go

The actor made his debut on SVU as Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba in 2013 on the third episode of Season 14, Twenty-Five Facts. He made recurring appearances throughout the season before being promoted to series regular in Season 15.

He appeared in 75 episodes as a regular cast before officially exiting the role in early 2018. He made his last appearance on Season 19’s thirteenth episode, The Undiscovered Country. On his last episode, Rafael left the District Attorney’s office after pulling the plug on a brain dead child. Following his departure, Chicago Justice character Peter Stone has filled in as the new ADA and Peter’s portrayer Philip Winchester has become the new regular cast of SVU.

Law & Order: SVU character Rafael Barba

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Raúl admitted that it was his decision to move on from SVU. He said, “I’ve done six seasons, I felt like it was time to go. I had explored a lot of what I thought Barba was about. I just felt it was time to move on.” He added, “I was also feeling like the role has changed over the years in a way that has been an interesting experience for me.”

He explained that coming from a theatrical background, he likes having his script changing every time. “The learning process of how roles grow over a period of time with a series has been kind of fascinating, and I just felt I had reached the end of what I wanted to explore where they were writing,” he said in the same interview.

Where is Raúl Esparza now? Will he return to SVU Season 20?

After the news of Raúl’s departure broke out, SVU showrunner Michael Chernuchin said in a statement, “It has truly been an honor writing for Raúl. The power, sensitivity and morality he brought to the character of Rafael Barba never failed to elevate our scripts.” He also mentioned that the door is open for him to return. “Raúl is family and we look forward to seeing his talent shine in new projects. As for Barba, SVU fans may see him again soon,” he said. 

Raúl Esparza and Mariska Hargitay

Raúl landed the role of Jackson Neill on the Hulu series, The Path, in early 2018. This was the last time he appeared on screen as he has once again started focusing on theater acts. His official Twitter bio says that the SVU alum is currently working at Classic Stage Company. It is a 51-year-old off-Broadway theater based in New York. 

So far, the network/actor has not shared any words about Rafael’s return in Season 20 but he may be back anytime in future.

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